University of Virginia's School of Architecture Looks to the Future of Charlottesville
This past Monday, the University of Virginia’s School of Architecture started a design study of U.S. 29 from Ivy Road to the South Fork Rivanna River. This weeklong project is welcomed by local environmental and business representatives, who are supporting this dialogue on improving Charlottesville.
This project marks the third year that the University of Virginia looked at a local development issue in Charlottesville. During the kick-off, Manuel Bailo, associate architecture professor at University of Virginia, shared that “We would like to see and explore how U.S. 29 can be more of an urban public space.”
Beginning Monday and ending on Saturday, thirty teams of architecture students will work towards presenting a vision for the hypothetical future of the Charlottesville road
This project has a large scope, as it involves thinking long-term about the future of Charlottesville, its buildings and its public spaces.
City Councilor Kathy Galvin emphasized the significance of U.S. 29 at the panel discussion that marked the start of the event: “I would like to stress the importance of looking at this road as the thread that ties together [Charlottesville and Albemarle County].”
Taking into consideration the regional economy, the potential for attracting start-up companies and the environmental interests of the area, this project is a complex, interesting and dialogue driven endeavor.
The Charlottesville community and local businesses share similiar hopes for the future, including making the area more walkable and bike-friendly, with easier-to-navigate pedestrian crossings – yet it must be taken into consideration that U.S. 29 is part of a larger highway system, running 219 miles in Virginia alone.
While making this heavily trafficked route safer for those on foot is a long-running discussion in Charlottesville, the University of Virginia project offers a unique vantage point by which to view the future.
Jeff Werner of the Piedmont Environment Council shared this sense of community and offered up the project as a unique occasion to share ideas, encouraging the student participants to take advantage of the “opportunity to think and look at things differently.”